Interview by: Abi Koh | Thumbnail Image provided by: Ciele Beau
The multi-talented and driven Ciele Beau not only sings, but also composes and writes her own songs! Currently based in Vancouver, Ciele creates music that she describes as "low-key pop with electronic tendencies." From composing songs on the xylophone at age 5 to being the lead singer of a hip hop band as a teenager, Ciele's journey with music has shifted throughout the years. She is now focused on being a solo artist and aims to one day play live shows and release music on a bigger scale.
What is your creative process like? Do you work on the lyrics or melody first?
Often times I start with a concept or an emotion. Then I move on to picking a chord progression that fits the feeling I want to portray. Then I improvise initial lyrics and free flow on top of what I'm playing. Once I have a solid line or two to work with, I usually take some time to only write lyrics for a bit, then will bring them back to the musical element and see how they flow with the chords. It's just a back and forth of fine tuning and finding the things that honour the song at its core intent.
Who have you collaborated with, and what has that process been like?
I've collaborated a lot so its hard to name everyone. Most recently I collaborated with an ambient electronic producer, Mapps, from Saipan. Our process was beautifully organic. I found him through SoundCloud, and reached out to him. He later sent me the instrumental for what is now our song 'Parking Lots'. I was immediately transported into a daydream in my head where a pair of lovers were at the end of their time together, one desperately reaching for any last thing that could keep them together, and the other already walking to their car about to leave. I started improvising lyrics over top and eventually came up with the final version. I sent him a demo version to approve; he loved it and then I recorded the final takes before he did the final production elements. And VOILA! Two people from opposite sides of the world, who have never been in the same room IRL, made music together. It's pretty crazy!
Do you enjoy collaborations? Are there challenges that have come along with them?
I do love collaborating with people. It can be a lot of fun, but other times challenging however. I tend to enjoy the challenge of maintaining a strong sense of self as an artist while still balancing the needs of the other collaborators and marrying our two styles together into something genuine and new. The only other major challenge of collaborating can be time difference and schedules. People are busy! And sometimes it's midday for one person and midnight for the other! Haha. But it usually works out fine in the end.
How would you describe your music style?
THE ultimate question of my life right now! I've been writing a lot, and trying to figure that out exactly... Best answer: Low-key Pop with electronic tendencies.
Besides singing and songwriting, what musical instruments do you play?
Piano (studied since I was 8) and guitar (self-taught), and a little ukulele. I also played the Penny Whistle as kid... so I'm practically a professional bag-pipe player.
When did you start composing and writing songs?
If we're talking the very beginning, I have a small book of xylophone "compositions" I made when I was 5. Then I got serious about my career when I was 8 and started a pop duo called Monkey Breath with my Grade 3 bestie Jessica.
I'm half kidding. Those are true stories, albeit silly, but I have actually been making up songs ever since I was 8, and constantly practising my writing since then. When Monkey Breath formed (haha) I tried writing our "big radio hit". My dad found the horrendous love song I wrote, on a piece of neon yellow paper, called King of my Heart. He actually had a conversation with me about good lyric writing, and creating things that are true to yourself and that can help affect people in meaningful ways - not just contribute to the general garbage that is being pumped into pop culture. A bit heavy for an 8 year old, but I actually started changing the way I thought about writing from that moment on. (Thanks Pops!)
I was the lead singer in a hip hop band with three MCs when I was a teen, which taught me a lot about writing thoughtfully, rhythm, and also about performance.
I truly started to take myself more seriously though as a solo artist when I was 19. That's when I began working on my first album, and thinking more critically about composition and lyrics.
Its all been rolling forward since then.
What do you hope to be doing musically 3 years from now?
Playing live shows, and touring with a band. Releasing new music and continuing to connect and share the way I am now, just on a bigger scale.
Here's to the Hustle! haha
What are the difficulties of being a singer/songwriter/musician in this day and age?
The music scene is constantly changing as fast as the internet's flavour of the week. Right now the old model of trying to be successful in music doesn't translate like it did even ten years ago. We are living in a streaming culture, and a lot of people aren't directly paying for music but rather for services that give them access to, hopefully, your music. It's hard for music to be a viable career unless you are a touring artist. But there are ways to do it! And labels still have a place, depending on what avenue you're looking to go in. It's really awesome that people can do so much on their own, in regards to recording and marketing and whatnot, nowadays, but the downside of that is the over-saturation. It's very difficult to stand out from everyone else. A lot of it is a game, and it's easy to get caught up in it and stressed out. At a certain point, if you really love music, you just have to make things that you're proud of and reflect you as an artist.
Do you have any other creative outlets besides creating music?
I do! I am also a visual artist. I went to university to study art, specifically painting. I have been working on a series of paintings based around my experience with Synesthesia. I've recently come up with some exciting projects to do with human connection and communication. Coming soon!
I am also a graphic designer! I split my time doing both music and art most days. I love both outlets so much, and they satisfy different parts of my spirit.